from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Open to change; adaptable: an emotionally labile person.
  • adj. Chemistry Constantly undergoing or likely to undergo change; unstable: a labile compound.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Liable to slip, err, fall, or apostatize.
  • adj. Apt or likely to change.
  • adj. Kinetically unstable; rapidly cleaved (and possibly reformed).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Liable to slip, err, fall, or apostatize.
  • adj. Liable or likely to change.
  • adj. Easily decomposed or inactivated when subjected to heat, radiation, or mildly acidic or alkaline conditions; -- of chemical compounds.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Unstable; liable to err, fall, or apostatize.
  • In medicine, noting a mode of application of electricity in which the active electrode is passed back and forth over the nerve or muscle to be acted upon: opposed in this sense to slabile.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (chemistry, physics, biology) readily undergoing change or breakdown
  • adj. liable to change


Middle English labil, forgetful, wandering, from Old French labile, from Late Latin lābilis, apt to slip, from lābī, to slip.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin labilis ("apt to slip, transient"), from labi ("to fall, slip"). (Wiktionary)


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  • Ziggy Stardust was labile. "Cha-cha-cha-changes..."

    October 3, 2008

  • first encountered in Goya, a biography by Robert Hughes, (2008)

    February 16, 2008